jars of honey

Yes, we use organic practices on our farm. No, you won’t find “organic” on the label.

On any given day, you might find me, one of my siblings or seasonal employees diligently hoeing – by hand – our fields to stay ahead of weeds. With each new season, we rotate our crops to keep bugs at bay, prevent soil erosion and build organic matter (rich nutrients in the soil). We also use livestock manure to replenish the soils, further building up Ns, Ps and Ks (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) that are essential for feeding our plants.

By almost all outward appearances, we’d be considered an organic farm. But, you won’t find any of our products with a “certified organic” label. Here’s why:
  • Organic certification is expensive. Certification costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, which includes an application fee, renewal fees, sales assessments and inspection fees.
  • It can be very time consuming. While a certified-organic farm is only inspected once a year, farmers are expected to keep pretty detailed records of what happens on the farm – from total hours spent weeding to logging equipment use. And, we grow a lot of different plants and produce, making the whole process even more difficult.
  • We use synthetic chemicals. Because of our farm size, there are just some things we can’t fight using organic practices. So, we choose to use minimal amounts of synthetic pesticides – and only as a very last line of defense. We’re confident this is the best choice for our farm. (Also, it’s a common myth that organic farmers don’t use any pesticides, but they can use naturally derived and some synthetic pesticides.)
  • A label doesn’t change the quality of a product. All our produce is grown with practices that are safe and healthy for the plant, for you and for your family. Regardless of the label, make sure you’re incorporating lots of fruits and veggies into your diet.
For some farmers, it makes sense to go through the organic certification process. It’s a financial decision that will make their business better and there may be a very strong demand for the organic label in the markets they’re reaching.
But simply put, our approach works for us. And more importantly it works for our customers at the farmers market, our customers subscribing to our community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and our customers who come out to the farm to pick up their own produce. It’s an approach not built on the back of a label that will promise this or that, but instead it’s built on decades of customer trust and confidence in the products we offer.
Our methods might change in the future, but as long as our customers keep showing up for our conventionally grown, safely raised products, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.

Kristin Srail

About Kristin

Located west of the Chicago suburbs, Windy Acres Farm is the only seasonal produce farm left in Geneva, Illinois. Owned by Wayne and Daryl, they farm with their four children, Amanda, Kristin, Jaime and Scott to grow fresh food. They sell products direct to consumers at their farm stand, local farmers markets and offer a delivered produce subscription.

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